May 30, 2010
Love, trains, and the American civil war.
The General is one of the greatest films ever made.
It's pointless trying to avoid exaggeration on this point.
The story is simple: A railway engineer caught up in the civil war makes good, and saves his girl from the enemy.
The character is one of the pillars of the film: Buster Keaton is a shy and timid creature, ill at ease in company for example when he accompies his loved one home. The second love of his life is the locomotive he drives. And as a train driver, he is disqualified from active service - And stays behind, accused unjustly of cowardice, as the other men volunteer, and head off to the front in the instroductory sequences.
The film shows masterful comic timing all revolving around essentially one man on a train. And witohut giving the plot away, there are subsequent amazingly choreographed sequences involving trains, bridges, pitched battles, and rescues in dark stormy nights.
It's the hilarious, and poignant, and very human take the civil war, love and battle, and trains, that makes this one of the greatest films of all time.